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Jacintha Kalyan is the first female pitch curator in India, working for the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA).
When rain lashed the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru recently, an incongruous sight met the eye; a woman shouted orders at groundmen who hurried to cover the pitch and the outfield. Cricket administration is still a man’s world, but Jacintha Kalyan has carved her niche in it. Jacintha is the only BCCI-qualified woman curator in the country and among a handful chosen few in the world. Chosen because the job of curator is an exacting one. The pitch and the outfield demand constant care and nurturing and regardless of rain or sunshine, the curator must deliver.
Born into an agricultural family, Jacintha spent much of her growing up years in a hostel, which she joined when in class 3. Educational options in her village were pretty much non-existent and her parents were bent on ensuring a good education. College brought her to Bengaluru but in 1993, while still a student, she secured the job of receptionist at Karnataka State Cricket Association’s club house. Jacintha was shuffled around departments at the KSCA before she was transferred to the ground staff department in a managerial role in 2014. She confessed she felt out of depth in those initial months. Soon, she was asked to try her hand at curating the pitch.
“I love challenges and I took up the new role with a lot of enthusiasm although I knew nothing about soil or grass or binding,” she said. “For six months I learnt the ins and outs of cleaning the outfield. I found a great teacher in Prashanth Rao sir, who taught me everything from scratch. The then zonal pitch in-charge PS Vishwanath sir and KSCA’s K Sriram sir guided me as well. It took me about five years to learn the nuances of the field before I decided to take the examination.”
Jacintha found plenty of encouragement. “Players, coaches, curators and administrators over the years have been very supportive. I guess, my sincerity and ability to work hard built confidence in people,” she said. She completed her BCCI curators course in 2018 and finished among the top-3 in 35 candidates. Having worked on the pitch for a lone One-day International, she has been curating pitches for Indian Premier League matches over the past few years. In the years ahead, Jacintha is looking to break more glass ceilings by getting on to the BCCI’s curators’ panel.